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Shooting Transport

Transport, it sure covers a lot of things.  The way we move ourselves and our things around is certainly varied.  From the cars, trucks, motorbikes and bicycles we see every day on our roads to the rarer things like horses and donkeys and Rickshaws. Photographing such a variety can be both challenging and rewarding. 

Here are some of the questions to consider:

·      What do you need to have with you to photograph these modes of transport? 

·      What things do you need to look out for?

·      What are your objectives/goals?

I won’t attempt to tell you what kind of camera system you would need to successfully capture ‘transport’ on your memory card.  The options are just too many nowadays with high quality compacts, awesome MFT and CSC systems and of course DSLR setups that will all give you exceptional results if you know how to use them.  The choice comes down to your budget, the requirements of the image (publishing in a photo book? Facebook only? Instagram? Prints for your house?) and how much gear you want to be carrying around with you (that’s always a big consideration for me).
What I would like to talk about is different things to keep in mind when you are taking photos of your preferred mode of transport.   Things like lens selection, techniques to try, ideas for different photos and safety when you’re out and about. 

The most obvious thing to show when shooting transport is the movement.  You can show movement in an object by dragging your shutter (slowing the shutter speed down).  How slow it has to be to show movement depends on the speed of the object and how much movement you want to show.  If you want to record car headlights on a road at night you might want a very slow speed, a few seconds at least, but if you want to show a slight blur than you can use a shutter of around 1/40th of a second.  The other option is to pan with the subject resulting in a mostly sharp subject but a very blurred background.  Try this technique on a street corner and pan smoothly when a car turns the corner.  Remember to continue panning during and after you activate the shutter, this can take some practice but that’s the fun! 

One good technique for getting sharp photos of moving subjects is to pre-focus on the spot you think the subject is going to move into and then start shooting just before it hits the area, and hopefully one or more photos will be sharp.  This can be done with any fast subject including sports photography.

Selecting your Lens
Lens selection is another thing to consider, I like to use a wider angle lens when shooting larger vehicles to try and get in as much as I can.  This can also be a good lens for photos inside a vehicle, as normally you don’t have much space to play with.  Longer lenses are good for getting close to the action when you can’t access a better location, for example motorsport or aviation photography.  Longer lenses can also be good for portraits of travellers inside vehicles.

Try to look for a different perspective than the usual point and shoot crowd.  Things like overpasses or nearby buildings can get you a better vantage point and can help make your photos stand out from the crowd.   You can get some nice photos of car headlight trails moving through intersections, a mess of train tracks or highways merging and looping like spaghetti.  Keep your eyes open to the possibilities of changing your vantage point and you might just end up with a winner!

One of the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) things about public transport is the characters that share the space with you.  You see all kinds of people doing all kinds of things on public transport and they can make for some really great character portraits.  The light coming in through the windows can be very nice at times and this can serve you well if you learn to see it properly.

Safety First

The final thing to consider when working with transport is your own personal safety.  Cars move fast and it’s not a good idea to be taking chances around moving vehicles.  Be aware of your surroundings while taking photos and always consider the safety aspect. 
Lastly remember that the more photos you produce, the better you will get as a photographer so get out there and start shooting! And have fun!


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